Henrico, Va. - The announcement came as a surprise to everyone except those closest to him. After 17 years, Patrick Kane stepped down as head coach of the Panthers on Wednesday, just days after falling to Highland Springs in the 5A regional final.
"You have so many years in your life, and there's some other things I'd like to pursue" Kane told Sean Robertson not long after the news broke. "There's no guarantees that I'll have those opportunities, but there are things I'd like to pursue."
Kane became the Panthers head coach in 2001, coming over from L.C. Bird where he was offensive coordinator. Before his arrival, the Hermitage program suffered through several mediocre seasons, but under Kane, they went 169-30, including making the playoffs in 14 of his 17 seasons.
The Panthers were 11-2 this year, the 8th time in the last 9 seasons they have won at least 10 games. The timing of his announcement, he hopes, gives the school time to find a replacement who will inherit a team that Kane believes will be well stocked to continue that success.
"My number one objective is to have Hermitage in good standing" Kane explained. "I know how important the off-season is for our program. If this [his resigning] was done at the end of the spring, it might put the program back a couple of years and I didn't want to do that."
In addition to the success on the field, Hermitage under Kane, has sent dozens of players on to continue their education and playing careers at every level of the college game. Some, like Seahawks offensive lineman Duane Brown, have made it all the way to the NFL.
"Every year, there's a re-evaluation process of what you want to do" Kane said. "The decision wasn't really made until we finished the season. I'm real excited about the program. We have excellent talent returning from our junior class."
"The future is bright."
Kane told his players of his decision during school Wednesday afternoon. Never an easy conversation, it was doubly hard on the players because there was no indication or rumor of anything happening beforehand.
"I don't know if anyone expected it" Kane said. "I'm not a gossip hound. I tried to tell the appropriate people correctly. My coaches knew [Tuesday] night. I told the players I would still be here for them. I told the seniors I will still help them accomplish their goals and told the underclassmen that I would always be here for them as well."
Kane has a Masters degree in administration, which keeps several options open to him for the future. "I haven't set one path or the other. I'd like to, in some form or fashion, continue coaching. I might take a year off to visit other programs which you can't do when you're coaching, and see how they do things."
Kane has two daughters in college and another who is a junior in high school. He admitted that the economics of his situation are always a factor in any career decision he might make.
"All they [his family] have known is me being the Hermitage football coach" Kane said. "When my oldest started kindergarten, I started at Hermitage. They love coming to our games. It's been a big part of our life. It was difficult, they didn't particularly want to hear it. But they know, it's time for Dad."
While the news is still new, this time of the year is when football winds down. When his decision might really hit home will be next spring when it's time to begin offseason workouts in earnest. Kane will be doing other things.
"I have some buddies with fishing boats" Kane said. "I'll be knocking on their door a little bit more. My girls were all athletes and I missed a lot of their events. Maybe I can focus on them more."
"I like to think of myself as a thoughtful person" Kane added. "I thought it out. This is good for myself, but Hermitage has an opportunity to take it to the next level and I wish them well."